First Impressions: the Fallen Earth tutorial

For those looking for the TL;DR, check out the quoted areas!

Your first quest object... ain't she cute?

Your first quest object, ain't it cute? - courtesy of YouTube

As I mentioned earlier, I bit the bullet and bought a digital copy of Fallen Earth. All bank/server hassles aside, I was able to get into the game and spend a little time. Not much, yet, but I’m hoping to change that tomorrow. Right now, I find myself in Zanesville, the first Enforcer town, right after the tutorial. I have about five quests under my belt, after the “go here so we can tell you about this mechanic” missions.

quote 1Since I’m still so early into the real game, I’d like to share my impressions on the first bit every new player will go through: the tutorial.

Taken as a whole, I really enjoyed the introduction Icarus Studios has crafted.

Here’s the jest: You start off the game in Hoover Dam, which is now a cloning laboratory and underground facility. Think of the vaults from Fallout 3. Right off the bat, you’re thrown into a series of “click this object” quests that are instigated and followed by voice-overs by a female protagonist that’s trying to save you from a gruesome death ending in organ harvesting. This progression continues until you’re asked to axe (literally) your first enemy who comes packing an automatic rifle and several hundred rounds. From this point forward, you’re guided in the use of weapons, equipment, movement, and ability use.

By the end, you’ll have killed humans, mutants, and super-mutants alike, and find yourself racing down a tunnel on an ATV trying to beat a ticking clock that spells out not only your doom but, as she eloquently reminds you, that of the lady-friend whose mission it was to save you.

Non-tutorial but still interesting...

I found the whole experience to be relatively pain free and unique amongst the masses of cut and paste, check the tooltip, MMO tutorials. Never before have I been asked to scope down my enemies from above and go headshot quotecorrectedafter headshot until the fall dead at my feet.  Even outside of that deliciously unique aspect, the introduction has a very thematic feel about it. It is a wholly guided experience, so there’s no sandbox here but, if you didn’t know any better, it’d be easy to believe you were starting off an FPS game on your console of choice… sans the next-gen graphics.

A lot of story get shared with you and it’s not done passively, like we usually see in traditional quest text. Everything in this tutorial is fully voiced, which is great, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little let down when the first quest giver after the tutorial just grunted at me.  Everything is fast paced and, unlike Aion, this introduction can be completed within 10-15 minutes if you go from task to task. A word of warning though, don’t move too fast. I tried to move ahead of the narrator and looted the rifle before she told me to. I was forced to delete my character and restart the tutorial because the game wouldn’t register my having picked it up and would not let me progress further.

I found the waypoints (red X’s on your minimap to indicate objectives) to be helpful but they really eliminated the necessity of listening to the narrator. Some people might like this, if you don’t care about hearing her, but those people probably wouldn’t need the waypoints anyways because they’ve been through it before. Maybe there’s a way to turn these off but, to be honest, now that I’m out of the tutorial and in the huge open world, I can see where I’ll appreciate them as I continue exploring and completing missions.

Headshot the people downstairs, earn XP!

Headshot the people downstairs, earn XP!

Being the speed demon I am, I messed up right at the end, so I don’t know if I completed the tutorial the right way or not. During the last stage, you have to get on an ATV and power down a tunnel to disarm a bomb. Well, I didn’t quote 4see the ATV right in front of me when that point came, so instead I went running down the tunnel looking for it for the next 10 seconds and had to turn around putting me behind. When I got on it, I drove as fast as I could but never did make it to the bomb. Sorry, narrator lady. You’re toast.

Or not. Somehow, she survived and died. When the bomb went off, everything went white and I was presented with a very cool little cut scene that explained what happened after I died. Apparently, years passed and I have given a nice little necklace that insta-clones me when I die. Maybe that’s simplifying it a little bit but that’s the core of it.

To be honest, I think that this is the best and most fitting explanation of respawning I’ve ever seen in an MMO. There are no ‘spirits linked to nature and returned to life’ or ‘soulbinding to an obelisk’ here. It’s, crap, you’re dead, the necklace reads your now flatlined vitals and sends a message back to home base to start the cloning process anew. Tada, Syeric is born again, ready to kick whatever mutant’s butt it was that just wasted me the first time.

Once that’s done, you’re taken into new clone homestead (my name) which allows you to decide what career path you’d like to walk and what town you’d like to start in. Another quest giver gives you a very basic introduction to crafting. Once both are done, you’re teleported to your town of choice and the real game begins.

Courtesy of a href=

Some people hate the introduction because it’s not representative of the actual game you’re thrown into. That may be true but I think a truer answer would be that it’s not representative of the game at level two. In the introduction, you’re a fully decked out level 40. You have firepower. At level two, you have a paintball gun you have to pump up to use and a crossbow. It’s not quite the same.  Similarly, post-tutorial, you have zero hand holding QUOTE 5and are given little direction other than to visit the NPCs with the biohazard symbols above their heads.

Yet, I can say this much, without that introduction I would have felt a lot more lost when I hit the “real” game.  And, on top of that, if given a choice between the WoW style tutorial and the Fallen Earth tutorial, Fallen Earth will win every time. The tutorial should be taken for what it is. It works and it’s nothing short of the best introduction to an MMO I’ve ever played through.

There are two areas that I wish could be better, however: graphics and performance. The game doesn’t perform according to the quality of graphics it delivers. Even with everything turned all the way up, it looks like an MMO from several years ago. I’m not a graphics fiend but when I can only pull 25-30FPS in towns and 30-40 in the wild, there’s a problem. I wouldn’t care if the graphics were up to par with that but they’re not and the only thing I can attribute it to is poor coding. Hopefully, their future patch will help this a bit.

That’s it for now. Hopefully, I’ll get some more hours under my belt. Fallen Earth is currently in the #2 spot under Aion to be my “main game.” Either way, this is a title I’ll be chipping away at. Like many other bloggers, I see it as somewhat of a no-pressure title. There’s no point in rushing to the endgame  because, unlike most other modern MMOs, this is a game that emphasizes the journey over the destination.

If you haven’t yet, consider voting in the poll to help me choose my main MMO. I’m indecisive. I need help. And, honestly, whatever game wins will probably see more posts than the other two.

Spoiler Warning: the final, awesome video of the tutorial

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  1. /AFK – October 18 « Bio Break

    […] Chris re: Fallen Earth – “Taken as a whole, I really enjoyed the introduction Icarus Studios has crafted.” […]

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